RATP Launches 'Clean' Buses

photo: bistro paris madere
All flags flying, the 'Paris Madère' bistro is not far
from the boulevard Haussmann.

Winter-Sports News Is Last

Paris:- Sunday, 27. December 1998:- Elsewhere in this issue I have given a huge plug for Paris' buses. More than a few readers swear by them, as being the most agreeable way of travelling around the city.

In the past, this comfort has been reserved mainly for passengers. The buses have diesel motors, and the speeds they run at, or idle at in traffic jams, have made them the cause of an extra amount of air pollution.

With the aid of Elf engineers, the RATP is trying out a new fuel, which is called 'aquazole,' a mixture of water and diesel. All 125 buses at the rue des Pyrénées depot have been equipped to run on the new fuel on an experimental basis.

Noxious emissions are less, but the new fuel costs more; something like an extra seven to 8,000 francs per bus per year. All the same, The RATP expects 80 percent of its 4,000 buses to be using the watered diesel within three years.

This is not the transport authority's only card. Currently, 57 buses are running on liquid GPL. Another 53 on runphoto: snack stand on haussmann on natural gas, or GNV; mostly in suburban communities. GNV is appreciated for its smooth motor operation, which reduces the ping-pong effect for passengers.

If you've skipped the bistro above, here's a snack chance right on Haussmann.

Most local public transport buses are relatively new. With their smooth automatic transmissions, their remarkable suspensions and their passenger-friendly interiors, they give a good ride and their big windows give a good view for the money.

Within Paris, the old 'section' tariffs have been eliminated, so one ticket is good for the entire length of a route, and some of these are pretty long. If you are bus-crazy, get a two-zone 'Mobilus' card for 30 francs and ride all day, on all lines.

The Weather and What To Do About It

It is windy times in Paris these days. On looking back I see it was windy last year around this time too. Before it is over, it will knock a lot of stuff over out in the country and some ships at sea will be in trouble.

Many writers want to know about the weather in Paris. The city is neither in the south, nor is it in Europe's true north. Without being 'in the south,' the true north begins just north of Paris, about where the Charles-de-Gaulle airport is.

The result is, Paris is prepared for southern weather which it doesn't quite get, and unprepared for northern weather, which turns up occasionally.

Somewhere out west, there is a weather-rudder in the Atlantic. If it works correctly, it makes warm air from the Azores turn right, into Europe. If Paris is lucky, it gets this mild flow.

This rudder is controlled by nearer, horrible nasty weather that comes from somewhere around the North Pole, but the French say Greenland. If this is weak enough, it is enough to block the flow from the Azores and turn it eastwards.

If it is stronger, like in winter, it keeps the mild air from the Azores away, and flows all over northern Europe. If it is really strong it can push all the way to the Côte d'Azur.

But sometimes, all of this gets upset by a high pressure zone stuck out in the Atlantic, which has the effect of drawing truly horrible weather all the way from Russia. In winter this can make the Paris part of Europe seem like Siberia. Luckily, this doesn't happen often.

Last January, winds of 190 kph battered the French coasts. There was a heatwave in February, with 24 degrees recorded at Carcassonne. Thereafter, normality was followed by another heatwave in June.

The record for days without sun was broken in northern France in July. August had a five-day heatwave and was followed by a lot of rain in September, with twice as much as normal falling in October.

In November the cold showed up and about 60 places in France noted new record lows. December began cold, then got mild, and now is normal. For winter, it is not cold, but it is grey and damp.

For the winegrowing region around Bordeaux, it was dream weather. No frost in March, little rain in July and 100 percent sunshine in August. A few grapes got grilled, but otherwise it was perfect. The harvest took place a week earlierphoto: cafe central than anticipated and the good weather held through October, enabling the vineyards to prepare for the following year.

This used to be my 'Bar Central.' Its owner moved to Bora-Bora, the bar expanded and got curtains, so I moved away too.

Seeing the weather from that point of view, over a long period, no 'global warming' trend is in evidence. Always capable of record highs or lows, over the long term, no extremes last for long. Not in Paris either.

Afraid of the Euro?

What the French are afraid of is that all 'rounding off' will be in the direction of up. This may happen to some extent, but the underlying inflation has been calculated to have risen 0.3 percent over the past year. This is down from a rise of 1.3 percent last year.

During the year price rises actually hit minus percentages three times. I have no idea how these numbers are calculated, but it should be remembered that there was a 'price-gouging' World Cup tournament during the year.

As a resident, I don't think increased taxes are included in the inflationary figures. Everybody is moaning about the new tax of the week and this is probably because they have lighter pockets. It's a good thing the statistics people don't weight pockets and purses.

For visitors though, all of this is good news. It means that prices are expected to remain stable - Euro or no Euro - and a holiday in France in 1999 should only cost a tiny bit more than in 1998.

Zinedine Zidane

This very tall, very fast kid from the back streets of Marseille, was awarded the magazine 'France Football's' 43rd 'Golden Football.' The somewhat shy Zinedine Zidane was France's team captain for the successful World Cup championships held last summer, and has also been awarded a 'Légion d'Honneur' by the President of France.

Zinedine Zidane was born in Boukhèlifa in Algeria, but moved with his family to France at a young age. For more than a precious moment last summer, France's win of the world championship also signaled a victory for all France's residents of North African descent.

Last week, Zinedine Zidane calmly walked through the storm of a Paris media circus, and just as quietly went away again, to play for Juventus of Turin. No French club can afford him.

Other Football News - PSG In Eternal Turmoil

In last week's issue, I noticed - quite by accident - that our local Big League club, Paris-Saint-Germain, was in another of its episodic pits. Last week, its boss, Charles Biétry, quit. He said he was 'responsible' and the cause of the team's woes.

Since he did not look terribly unhappy on TV-news, I suspect Mr. Biétry is quite content to get off the thankless hot seat. Pay-TV operator Canal+ has sent in their financial director, Laurent Perpère, and 47 year-old 'Enarque.'

Mr. Perpère is supposed to 'impose a new style of direction' at the hapless club. This means he will buy and sell players like any other football boss - with the difference that the fans are not semi-captive subscription payers. They want to see PSG victories and not one-star re-run movies with unknown actors.

And Now, the Winter-Sports News

photo: a small xmas tree Good news, snow freaks! As previously reported, all of France's alpine areas are covered by lots of snow. Bad news, snow freaks! All of France's alpine resorts are full up, booked solid, sold out; 'complet.'

This year's last, midget, Christmas tree. Humbug!

At this precise moment, this is largely due to so many residents having holidays between Christmas and New Year's. We're all supposed to go back to work on Monday, 4. January. The schools' winter holidays start on Saturday, 6. February - so you may have a five-week snow-freak opportunity between now and then. Take it if you must.

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